“1,200 people die each day from tobacco,” a poster read hanging in the pavilion of the Wilson Community Park Saturday afternoon.
The youth who created the poster and placed it on display say they want people to know the dangers of tobacco, and that’s why they joined in to mark the worldwide observance of World No Tobacco Day.
“Every day, 1,200 people die from tobacco,” said 14-year-old Quindazia Douglas, a member of Ardmore High School’s Students Working Against Tobacco team. “Even more people are negatively affected. People think tobacco isn’t that bad, but you could die. I think people would be amazed to know how many people die because of tobacco.”
Youths involved in SWAT teams in Carter County gathered at the Wilson park to share the message to area children of never starting to use tobacco products. The event was open to the public, and featured games.
SWAT members, from Ardmore High School and the Boys and Girls Club of Carter County, say they believe many smokers and tobacco users get their start at a young age. Sharing the message of living a tobacco-free life, group members played games such as “cigarette bowling,” where a player would knock down the cigarettes, and “spitting out tobacco,” a watermelon seed-spitting contest.
Some team members wore signs that read “quit smoking for your pet.” One of those members was Ashley Sorrels, a 12-year-old Healdton resident involved in the Boys and Girls Club of Carter County. After joining SWAT, she learned how dangerous cigarette butt litter is for pets, like her dog Princess.
“It is very poisonous for animals,” Sorrels said. “People who do smoke, should not just throw butts around.”
World No Tobacco Day is an annual day of awareness sponsored by the World Health Organization. Health organizations across the world, including the Carter County Turning Point Coalition, encourage tobacco users to observe a 24-hour period of abstinence from all forms of tobacco on the May date.
This year the Carter County SWAT teams selected the Wilson Community Park to observe the celebration because Wilson city leaders have declared the park and all city property tobacco free, including no use of electronic devices.